Warm-hearted festive feast

A Christmas Carol

A christmas carol,
theatre deli, sheffield

At this time of year we can become overly familiar with Charles Dickens'  tale of  miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and his spritual redemption on Christmas Eve but the Flanagan Collective from York offer something entirely original guaranteed to warm the hearts on these chilly nights.

The story is told by just two actors - Al Barclay is a haughty Scrooge and Jack Whitam's lively ghost of  Jacob Marley also  functions as our MC - with the help of some old school special effects such as torchlight, a two-way mirror and hidden pulling of strings.

The ghosts of Chrismas Past, Present and Future are suggested rather than visualised and the story remains firmly fixed in Scrooge's atmospheric Victorian parlour with no visits to the Cratchits. But it remains faithful to Dickens and captures the essence of the story of how the joyless curmudgeon turns into a jovial soul cavorting round the car park.

Barclay and Whitam make an engaging double act and there's gentle audience interaction which involves a bit of carol-singing, parlour games and reading out Christmas cracker jokes.

But the centrepiece, of course, is the Christmas dinner. The St Mary's Bramall Lane charity serve up a sumptuous festive feast (turkey or nut roast and all the trimmings) halfway through. It encourages the audience to socialise while passing each other the sprouts and cranberry sauce. It adds to  the sense of communal good cheer which should be part of the  yuletide experience.. It sets us up to approach the impending holiday in good heart.

                                 Ian Soutar